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I'm dreading day out with DP and his DD

(26 Posts)
Tarantino Wed 06-Jul-11 15:53:51

Dp and I do not live together but see a lot of each other and each other's kids. I like his DD but I find her incredibly clingy and it spoils a lot of days out for me if I'm honest. Like when we went to the forest for the day she dug her arm into DP's and the two of them walked off together leaving me lagging behind like a spare part. Everywhere we go she links arms with him and it feels like they're the couple and I'm just a mate tagging along. I know I'm probably being unfair but to me this isn't a nice day out as a family. When ex and I were together neither of us walked off with one child arm in arm leaving the other parent walking alone. Now DP wants to arrange a day to Alton Towers with the kids. He says it will be a nice day as the kids are old enough to go off on their own and enjoy the rides independantly and him and me can walk around together. I've agreed on principle but I don't really want a day of walking around following the two of them like a lost puppy. I know full well she will link arms with him and off they will go and the whole day will be like that.

How do I put it across to him that I'd like to walk with him as the other adult as opposed to behind him without it sounding like I'm trying to push her out? She's 14 by the way so certainly not a small child.

Petal02 Wed 06-Jul-11 16:01:19

You're not the first poster to encounter this problem, and it's not specific to step-daughters either. My stepson is nearly 17, over six foot, and still drapes himself over my husband while they're walking down the street. I follow behind like Appendix A. Passers-by probably think they're a gay couple who've brought their Auntie along for the ride ....

Part-time parenting relationships seems to have completely different dynamics to 'together' families, and things often seen disproportionately intense.

My first question, is have you talked to your DP about this? It might be that he doesn't realise that it's a bit odd, and that it makes you feel pushed out? In your position, I'd be tempted to link arms with your DP (assuming his daughter only hangs on to one of his arms??) and walk along with him regardless. I think she might get the message then.

brdgrl Wed 06-Jul-11 19:03:47

oh my god. i could have written this post. My now-SD was 13 when her dad and I got together, and I felt the same as you on every outing. If somehow I DID get to walk next to my DP, she'd walk in between us to force us apart - no lie, she'd even walk INTO our arms if we were holding hands and force us apart! It wasn't just the physical contact, either; she'd sit next to him everywhere and pair off with him in conversations...I felt like they were the couple, and so did she.

She is 16 now. I can't say the problem has gone away completely, but it is SO much better than it was. My DP had to be made to see the problem, though, and once he did, he made an effort to correct it - not letting her push us apart walking down the street, making sure he sat next to me, and not being afraid to call her out on it. There were tears and LOTS and LOTS of pouting, but it helped. I also stopped giving up - it gets tiresome asserting yourself all the time, and you feel quite petty - but you have to do it if you want to make a change.

It took a long time though - doesn't it always - to get my DP to stop mimimizing the problem. We had several disasterous holidays first - and I finally said I wasn't going out with them anywhere until he got it under control. It was hard to stick to that, but I think that's maybe what finally got him to take me seriously.

Lorenz Thu 07-Jul-11 07:29:27

God I remember this all too well. In the end I said to him "You either walk with me and show me the respect I deserve whilst making ALL the children walk as CHILDREN or I simply don't go anywhere with you. We went to a nature reserve that very afternoon and as soon as we got out of the car she grabbed his arm - remembering what I'd said he shook her off and said "will you just walk properly like the others? I don't want you clinging to me all the time, you're nearly 14!". She went off in a massive sulk. Then a few days later he took her to Tesco and my friend saw them walking around the aisles arm in arm like a loved up couple. So it seems she wasn't doing it for my benefit afterall but IMO it was weird as hell, 14 year old do NOT act like that.
Then it came to a head at a day at a theme park funnily enough, we'd had words before we got there that the adults walk together and the kids walk together yet she tried it there - grabbed his arm and pulled him off in front. I pulled him back and said "you promised, remember?" and he said "what? of I didn't even realise she was doing it - "

You're fighting a losing battle. Trust me.

theredhen Thu 07-Jul-11 07:57:32

It's just attention seeking isn't it? It's not a 4 year olds ways of doing it but it is a 14 yr olds. Good parents will make sure their kids feel secure but won't do what they want just for an "easy" life. So whilst they might have a cuddle on the sofa while watching a film, they won't be clung onto like a limpet in public.

You only have to watch supernanny to realise that kids who get their own way all the time, aren't the happiest of kids.

NanaNina Sat 09-Jul-11 21:58:44

It's not difficult to understand is it - it's a 14 yr olds way of saying "you are mine - not hers" - I notice how my dil dislikes it when I link arms with my son, just so I can feel close to him as I don't see him that often and Yes I suppose it is my way of saying "he's mine as well as yours" - oh god it all sounds so possessive doesn't it, and would that we were all made of tougher stuff.

Incidentally I am a SM too and thanks god the step kids are now grown with their own families (that's a whole other story) so I do understand how annoying it can be for SMs. To be honest if anyone asked me what they thought of living with/marrying someone with children I'd say "run for the hills" - I suffered years of unhappiness because of the whole SPing issue.
I saw it from both sides, as my P being stepdad to my son and me being stepmum to his kids.

Maybe some families do work it out, but we never did, just rounds of arguments and resentment. I was fortunate enough to have a really close friend in whom I could confide, and admit that I was jealous of my SD with my P. Not an easy thing to admit - made me feel like an ogre to be jealous of a pretty little girl, but that was the truth of the matter.

It's not natural - animals don't do it. Male lions will kill the young of a lioness with whom he intends to mate to preserve his gene pool. Not advising that to anyone but more a point to ponder.

feckwit Sat 09-Jul-11 22:03:40

Hard for me to answer this really because as a step mum who has encountered this it never actually bothered me. I always felt we had plenty of time alone and was just pleased his daughters still had such a close bond that they DID feel possessive. I never lagged behind in that instance though as that is very passive, I walked alongside.
Honestly it is not just stepchildren who do this either, "regular" children do too at times.

exoticfruits Sat 09-Jul-11 22:13:19

Have you tried having days out with just the two of you? If you never see her without DP I expect that she is jealous.

redfairy Sat 09-Jul-11 23:29:12

Hi Tarantino,

No advise I'm afraid but buckets of empathy. having just spent the day fruit picking with Dh and 12 yr old DSD I'm so glad she has decided not to spend the night this weekend as I couldnt take the arm linking, skin rubbing and secret whisperings for much longer. It can be so hard to keep reminding yourself to be the grown up. I appreciate its good to spend time as a family but I get so tense about it that I need a bottle of wine to get over it wink

It wouldn't grate quite so much if it weren't for the fact that she carefully vets the activities we have planned and if she thinks it 'too boring' she just wont come. To be honest I'd like to get my jobs done rather than turn event planner but that's another story...

littlejo67 Mon 11-Jul-11 13:10:05

He has two arms, stop lagging behind. Dont split them up, join them.....

swash Mon 11-Jul-11 21:46:42

Just tell him straight how you feel, and that you are not going to put up with it. I used to get really annoyed about this, but felt I shouldn't. It took years for me to realise that dss was actually doing it as a way of laying claim to his dad - it really was deliberately challenging (albeit subconsciously so).

Better all round - for dss as well as me - for dh to set some boundaries.

WiiUnfit Tue 12-Jul-11 17:20:39

This is probably going to sound harsh & I will probably be flamed, but as a SD who wishes she had more time with her Dad, haven't you ever thought of the fact that your SD may just want some close time with your DP?

Do not cause a row over this, it will cause your SD to resent you which will cause problems between you & your DP, trust me!

RhiRhi123 Wed 13-Jul-11 17:17:11

I know how you feel my SS is 11 and clings to my husband all the time he follows him into the bathroom and sits on the loo when my H is in the shower! and even if my H goes to the loo he stands in the door way!

. It drives me mad we had his Son for the weekend of our first anniversary - which annoyed me for a start could have made an arrangement to drop him off early etc so we could have dinner but no! angry Anyway! on the day of our anniversary we were sat on opposite sofas with ss on his lap and he said ill come and sit with and ss kicked up such a fuss my H actually sat on the floor inbetween us! he should have stood up to him!

I end up like a spare part every weekend which makes me resent it even more. Believe me I know how u feel! wine

brdgrl Thu 14-Jul-11 12:30:11

RhiRhi - my SD is 16 and until recently she did the same thing when DH showered. I was appalled.

WiiUnfit Mon 18-Jul-11 14:39:53

RhiRhi, your SS sees your DH on weekends, his time with him is limited & therefore very important to him & probably your DH too - why don't you see this?

Why shouldn't your SS be able sit with your DH? You _are_ the spare part when your SS is spending time with his Dad, so act your age!

My word! I'm so glad my SM was not like you!

allnewtaketwo Mon 18-Jul-11 14:47:52

"You are the spare part when your SS is spending time with his Dad"

I totally disagree with this. I can't see how it would benefit a child to grow up with a distorted experience of family life whereby it's ok for one adult to be treated as a "spare part" by the other, or by a child, or both. It may serve the short term purpose of somehow over-compensating, but in the long run the effect will be the DC grows up having no idea how normal families integrate/operate, and the parents will grow apart as resentment grows.

No one person should ever feel like a spare part when with their family.

Petal02 Mon 18-Jul-11 15:05:29

Allnew, that's an excellent post. If you allow the stepchild to think they're the "main event" on access weekends, you're creating very skewed dynamics within the household. The adults are "in charge" in a normal household, and the child/ren come further down the food chain. Putting a child on a pedestal is very unhealthy.

brdgrl Mon 18-Jul-11 15:20:33

Amen, Allnew. AMEN!

And for that matter - what about those of us who have fulltime custody of our stepchildren? Are we to be a spare part in our own homes, seven days a week...?

My DH isn't a spare part when we are with our DD, and I am not a spare part with the stepkids. We are a couple, at the head of a family.

I intend to act my age, and we teach our kids to act their ages.

Petal02 Mon 18-Jul-11 15:22:05

I should add that I frequently feel like a spare part - SS is treated like a royal visitor, not a family member, and it's wrong on so many levels. Last Saturday was a perfect example; DH had arranged a full days 'entertainment package' for SS, they left the house at 10am on Saturday morning, DH gave me a peck on the cheek and said he hoped I had a nice day ....... well fine, but it seems alien to DH that I might have wanted to spend some time with him. It's taken as red that I'll stand aside on access weekends. It just wouldn't happen like this in a bio-family. But when there's a stepchild, it's all very intense and disproportionate.

I understand that the NRP (usually the father) tries to cram two weeks parenting into one weekend, but that usually means that life grinds to a halt for anyone else in the household. I've often asked my DH if I should temporarily evaporate on access weekends, as this would be the perfect solution.

brdgrl Mon 18-Jul-11 15:34:12

Sorry, Petal. You are right, it wouldn't happen that way in a healthy bio-family, would it?
Summer, and the kids are off school. Both Dh and I work from home. He's doing pretty well with it (big progress!), but still feels like he is somehow responsible for their entertainment needs. I keep hopng they will catch on that it isn't school holidays for HIM.

MrsZuko Mon 18-Jul-11 15:34:51

Actually, I think the step-child should be the main event on access weekends, mainly because any child of divorced parents has already been made to feel like their needs are completely irrelevant, simply by their parents getting divorced. Most children feel that they are in some way to blame and the pain of missing the absent parents is so acute as to be physical. To begrudge them the chance to have physical contact with their parents in this situation seems bloody cruel to me, not to mention selfish and immature.

Petal02 Mon 18-Jul-11 15:41:18

No one is begrudging physical contact when it's age-appropriate, but when you get children who are almost adults, either sitting on their parents knee, or draping themselves over them in the street, as if they were a couple, then it starts to push the boundaries of healthy behaviour. Just how far do you compensate for a divorce/separation that took place years ago?

brdgrl Mon 18-Jul-11 16:27:03

Apologies if this is a bit long.

My DSD has lived with her dad continuously since the day she was born. He works a flexible schedule at home, was the primary caregiver most of her life, and spends a great deal of time with her, far more than most parents of teenagers have with their kids, and more than her 'traditional household' friends spend with their own bio-parents.

I can tell you that the problem is most definitely NOT a lack of time or attention from DH towards DSD.

I accept that not every case is going to be the same, but since I have the same issue, with a DSD who lives with her dad, as other women on this thread, I think there is something else going on in at least some of these cases.

In our case, DSD has issues with control, and has for her entire life. This is not just my analysis of the situation, but something acknowledged by everyone who knows her and loves her. As I see it now, losing her mom was something she had NO control over, and she was completely unprepared to deal with that. Now she clings even more to the things she thinks she can control. This is a girl who absolutely HAS to hold the remote control when the family watches tv, she physically shakes when she can't.

Our counselour, amongst others, tells us that DH and DSD have a relationship that is too much like a couple, rather than that of a father and daughter, to be healthy. In reading books about stepparenting, I've learned that this is actually not uncommon (as this thread suggests!), and there is even a term for is, spousification.

She hangs (less now than she used to, thank goodness) on her dad like a limpet because she didn't want to lose her position as centre of the household, which is what she was from the time she was a small child. And because this was her way of demonstrating that she and her father were a couple. And, finally, to try to keep control over a situation she could see was changing - my arrival on the scene.

DH and I made a decision together to work on re-establishing a more appropriate role for DSD, one where she can be a teenage girl with the right balance of independence, dependence, security, and boundaries. Besides being absolutely essential for the good of the rest of the household (everyone - me, her brother, her sister, DH - we all suffer when she plays the role of DH's partner), it is better for her. She's growing up, and she can't hang on daddy's neck all the time or share the bathroom with him like a little girl does - but she's also still a child, not his peer, and she has to learn to be okay with that.

The way I think of it, DSD has for years been treated like a toddler, with no responsibilities - but empowered like an adult. It is not good for her, and it hasn't taught her how to deal with the tough stuff, and it hasn't prepared her for a good relationship with a future mate. I sympathize with her, because she is scared and insecure - but the way to deal with that is to show her that she can relax and it will be ok - NOT to give her everything she wants, which ultimately only feeds her insecurity.

Petal02 Mon 18-Jul-11 16:54:25

Brdgrl - what a superb post. I agree totally with your comments about control. I thought it was refreshing that you and your DH are working together to find an age-appropriate role for your stepdaugther within the family. Because having your DH on board is half the battle; my DH is too scared of losing contact with his son, the only style of parenting he dares adopt is the "line of least resistance at all times." What he fails to realise, is that he's doing his son a huge dis-service, he's not preparing him for adulthood or independence in any way, but I can't make him see this.

allnewtaketwo Mon 18-Jul-11 19:56:11

"Actually, I think the step-child should be the main event on access weekends"

Well that's certainly one way to ensure the child/young adult grows up having a definite problem with self-identity and normal relationships.

Incidentally until what age? 16? 17? 18? 21? At what point would you then "drop it" to the child that they are no longer the centre of the household? What a shock such a child/young adult would then receive! Talk about making problems for the future. Imagine entering into an adult relationship with someone who was used to being put on a pedestal all their life and treated like the "main event". Glad my DH's father didn't behave in this way when he was young, that's all I can say!

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